(Courtesy of Angara Media Team)

Palawan is realizing its tourism potential, incumbent Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara said on Saturday.

Angara, who was in the province last week, described the province as the “crown jewel of Philippine tourism.”

“Ang nakakatuwa is Palawan is finally realizing the potential of everyone new in hand which is the tourism. Palawan is the crown jewel of the Philippine tourism, no disrespect to Boracay, and to Bohol which are all beautiful in their own light. Pero Palawan kasi is huge eh, so ‘yong potential niyo [in Palawan] it can be like a Bali or a Phuket. Bali is to Indonesia, Phuket is to Thailand, that’s what Palawan will be or ever will be to be,” Angara told Palawan News.

Angara, however, advised provincial leaders and stakeholders “to learn from the experience of Boracay and implement proper ecology care.”

It is through good and careful planning that the province will be able to preserve its environment in the midst of the booming tourism industry, he pointed out.

Angara also noted the development of the province compared to the last time he visited.

He cited the improved road networks and the increased number of daily domestic and international flights.

“I’ve been here a number of times, siguro a total of seven or eight times in the province. Nakapag-biyahe na rin tayo to a few of the other towns but of course not as far as south as Brooke’s Point or Bataraza but ‘yong mga nearby towns napuntahan ko na at nakita ko ‘yong challenges. In fact when I was a congressman nagpunta na kami dito with the invitation of Congressman Mitra, the young congressman. We saw how challenging the infrastructure was, masama pa ‘yong kalsada noong panahon na ‘yon. Ngayon maganda na with the help of the government and the foreign aid,” he pointed out.

Angara said he saw how tourism could actually transform a community like what happened in his hometown in Baler, Aurora.

We used to have 15,000 tourists a year which is now over a million.

“Wala pa kaming airport [niyan]. So kayo, all the more kasi you are open to the world already,” he said.

Angara said he has contributed to the growth of the province through legislations that he authored and became into law.

These are the Tourism Act of 2009, the Free College Law and the Universal Healthcare Law, he said.

If re-elected as senator, Angara said he will push for the passage of the bill dividing Palawan into three provinces.

“I am looking forward na ma-implement finally itong bill na ipinasa namin as chairman of the Committee on Local Government, ‘yong dividing the province of Palawan. Of course subject to plebiscite ‘yan… at the end of the day sila rin ang magde-decide kung natutuwa sila doon sa ginawa nating batas at [kung] sa tingin nila makabubuti sa kanila ‘yon. Kung marinig naman kasi ng mga Palaweños ‘yong argument for division baka ma-convince sila na tama ‘yong hatiin ‘yong Palawan province into three. Sapagka’t ang taga Bataraza hirap na hirap pumunta po sa Puerto Princesa para kumuha ng tulong, diba ilang oras ang ibi-biyahe niya three or four hours,” Angara said.

Angara said he believes that dividing Palawan into three provinces will comply with the aim of the Local Government Code of administrative efficiency and good delivery of services.

He said Palawan has a very large land area as it is four times the size of Cebu which makes it more difficult for the local government to deliver services and extend efficient administration to its far-flung areas.

“Binabati natin ang mga Palaweño at nagpapasalamat kami sa oras na binigay ninyo. Sana ma-maintain natin ‘yong tiwala na binigay sa atin ng ating mga kababayan especially dito sa Palawan,” Angara said.

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